March 1, 2021 Media Release
March is Fraud Prevention Month, and throughout the month the Financial Crimes Unit will be focusing our efforts on combating extortion scams – through investigation and enforcement as well as education and awareness.
In 2020, Manitobans lost over $4.4 million through mass market scams. This includes $1.9 million lost through extortion scams. Extortion scams were the most reported scams and they were the most profitable for fraudsters not only in Manitoba, but in all of Canada.
To help raise awareness, we have prepared a video detailing what extortion scams are, the most common ones, and how Manitobans can protect themselves from falling victim to these scams.
If you or someone you know has been a victim to an Extortion Scam, please contact both the Winnipeg Police Service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to file a report.
Virtual event series
The Winnipeg Police Service will be participating in a number of events to help educate citizens on how they can protect themselves from fraud. However unlike in years past, all of these events will be held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These virtual events include:
- The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Canada-Wide Fraud Prevention Month Launch
- Tuesday March 2, 2021 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Information specific to Manitoba being presented at 1 p.m.
- Connect with the Anti-Fraud Centre’s social pages at:
- Facebook Live Event: Protect Yourself from Scams
- Wednesday March 10, 2021 at 6 p.m.
- Facebook: @wpgpoliceofficial
- We will discuss the most popular types of mass market scams in Manitoba, including a special section dedicated to seniors.
- Facebook Live Event – MoneySmart Manitoba’s Protecting You Family from Fraud
- Thursday March 18, 2021 from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m.
- MoneySmart Manitoba: @moneysmartmanitoba
- Winnipeg Police Service: @wpgpoliceofficial
- Senior Investigator Jason Roy with the Securities Commissions and Det. Mike Streilein of the Financial Crimes Unit will discuss recognizing and avoiding financial fraud.
- Facebook Live Event: Fighting Fraud: Advice for Individuals New to Canada
- Tuesday March 23, 2021 starting at 6 p.m.
- Winnipeg Police Service: @wpgpoliceofficial
- We will discuss the most popular types of mass market scams in Manitoba which are focused on victimizing individuals new to Canada including foreign students.
Watch for the hashtag #FPM2021 on social media for fraud prevention information from agencies across Canada throughout the month. We all have a role to play in fraud prevention.
On February 26, 2021, at approximately 11:45 a.m., two Winnipeg Police Service Foot Patrol officers were working the downtown area when they were approached by an employee of a retail business in the area. She was with a female senior who was on her cell phone. The employee advised the officers that she was attempting to stop the woman (victim) from turning over Google Play card codes to a suspected phone scammer. The employee further advised that the victim had just purchased $1,000 in Google Play cards from the store.
One of the officers accessed the victim's phone and determined that the scammer was still on the line. The officer told the suspect that he was a WPS officer, gave him his badge number and said that the fraud had been halted, to which the suspect replied: "I don't care who you are; this transaction is between her and me. Put her back on the phone." The suspect ultimately ended the call.
It was learned that the victim had been told she would be arrested due to a tax matter. She had been directed to turn over banking information, PINs, to purchase $1,000 in Google Play cards all to avoid arrest and not tell anyone about the call.
Officers walked the victim to her bank, which was close by. The situation was explained to the assistant manager, who was able to freeze the victim's accounts and change passwords. The assistant manager noted she was very familiar with the scam and deals with victims daily. The victim's bank accounts were not compromised.
Finally, the retail store manager contacted Google Play, who refunded the victim's purchase.
The Winnipeg Police Service reminds the public that no legitimate agency will contact you by phone and ask for payments in this manner or request banking information.
Additional resources can be found at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.
Constable Jay Murray, Public Information Officer
Constable Dani McKinnon, Public Information Officer
Constable Claude Chancy, Public Information Officer
Kelly Dehn, Manager of Public Affairs